It started last Monday as the Montreal Canadiens were wrapping up a three game home stand against the Boston Bruins and as usual, the power play was inefficient again, going 0-for-3 in the game. The Canadiens power play hadn’t connected since they last converted on a power play on Dec. 1.
Colby Cave of the Boston Bruins scored his first NHL goal in his 16th career game. Adding to the fire, Jaroslav Halak, in his 10th game against his former team, recorded his third shutout of the season after making 19 saves as the Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. This marked his second shutout against the Habs as his other shutout came on January 10th as a member of the St. Louis Blues.
When asked about the Bruins slump and what it meant to be a part of the Habs-Bruins rivalry, Colby Cave said:
“We wanted to get back on the winning track here. And obviously with the rivalry, Bruins and [Canadiens], guys get up a little bit more, and it was a huge win for us and a complete effort, so we’re going to carry that into the next game.” (NHL.com)
In addition, Carey Price spoke with the media regarding the Habs effort in the game against Boston and shared the following:
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot that needs to be said. I think everybody in this locker room knows that was a [very bad] effort.” (NHL.com)
Tough Tilt Against Colorado
Then they went into Colorado on December 19th for a tilt with the Colorado Avalanche knowing full well that if they were going to win, they needed to stay out of the penalty box as the Avalanche power play is one of the best in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens managed to kill off the Avalanche’s four power play opportunities.
If there was anything positive about the game, it was the fact that they finally snapped their power play scoring drought, early in the first period with a goal by Brendan Gallagher.
The trio of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog figured in on all the scoring in the game as they combined for 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). Philipp Grubauer started in goal and made 35 saves for the win.
Prior to the game, the Avalanche had given up 33 goals in their previous 7 games going 2-4-1. When asked about the amount of goals they’ve given up, Grubauer mentioned they wanted to cut down on the goals and that they can’t rely on their top stars to score 5 or 6 goals to win a game.
Domi Back In Arizona
The Habs then went to Glendale to take on the Arizona Coyotes the day after as they were looking to snap a mini two-game losing skid and they did just that win a 2-1 win and Price finally got his 300th NHL win. It also marked the first game for Max Domi against his former club.
Domi didn’t record a point in the game but only had positive things to say about his former club.
“That was fun. I have so many memories here, and it was emotional,” Domi said. “I was here for only three years but it seems like 20.” (NHL.com)
It was also a first game for Alex Galchenyuk against the Habs. He also didn’t record a point but was anxious to play well against them.
“I was fired up. There were a lot of emotions, but the second the puck drops it’s another game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.” (NHL.com)
The Habs also scored a power play goal in two consecutive games. The goal came from Shea Weber whose return was supposed to fix a putrid power play but it didn’t. It took time and effort and the Habs were rewarded for those efforts. The game-winning goal came off the stick of Paul Byron in the third period to secure the win.
Pit Stop In Sin City
The week ended with a stop in Las Vegas on Saturday to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. This was not going to be an easy game as Vegas came into the game on a six-game home winning streak.
The Habs were looking to head into the Christmas break on a positive note and did just that as the Habs pulled off a 4-3 OT win with the winning goal coming from Paul Byron just 1:59 into the extra frame to give them their first OT win this season.
It would not have been possible had it not been for Phillip Danault who recorded his first career hat trick which included the game-tying goal with 85 seconds to go in the third period with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker.
Coach Claude Julien really liked the effort the Habs put on the ice against the Knights.
“Really proud of the way we played today, the way we responded today. I thought we played a solid 60 minutes. Vegas is a team that forces you to play well if you want to win a hockey game. They’re a good hockey club, they play a fast pace. If you’re sloppy, they’ll make you pay for it. We had to be on our toes today and had to be sharp, and that we were.” (NHL.com)
Julien also added that he spoke to Danault about getting more involved around the net and create some scoring chances. He did exactly that. Coach Julien added that this performance will be good for his confidence. Let us hope so.
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals